Thursday 5th March – Monday 9th March

Phewa Lake, Pokhara.

So…we relaxed in Pokhara for five days, occupying our time doing pretty much nothing. After months on the road in Africa, Pakistan and India, we figured that it was time for a holiday. There wasn’t much to do anyway, apart from trekking, which we were too lazy to do, so we spent a lot of time sitting in café gardens sipping cold drinks, reading, and writing letters.

On Friday morning we walked from our hotel towards town looking for a good place to eat breakfast and bumped into Sindee and Sarah, along with an Aussie guy called Mark, who were sitting in an open-air restaurant. That evening, we bought 10 grammes of hash off the restaurant owner and had a gram each in a hash lassi. Fuck me!! The effect was far from enjoyable. To begin with, it was fun – everything was hilarious and our attempts to draw a possum¹ sent us into paroxysms of laughter – but soon the effects of the hash began to get too strong for Linda, Sarah and me to handle.

Linda and Sarah went back to the house that Sindee, Mark and were renting, and I followed them about 10 minutes later, gripped by an uncontrollable paranoia that I’d be robbed as I walked down the dark alley to the house. I found Linda and Sarah in a similar state and the 3 of us sat there, completely out of it, fighting off the demons that were being conjured by our traumatised brains.

When Sindee and Mark came back, our paranoia was lessened but by now we were all contending with nausea and the knowledge that the effects of the hash would last for hours. I went outside and willed myself to throw up, thus diminishing the longer effects of the hash. Eventually, we all fell into a fitful sleep.

In the morning, Linda and I walked back to the hotel, which was a good move as the fresh air helped to clear the remaining drug-fug of the previous night. At the hotel, we had an exhausted hour of sleep – neither restful nor enjoyable – then packed up, checked out, and found a taxi to take us over to the Lonely Guesthouse, where the others were staying and we had all spent 12 hours in a drug-induced state of paranoia.

Although we smoked hash again in the days that followed, we were very wary of it and I think overall it was a good lesson for us about just what can happen when you meddle with drugs, even relatively harmless ones like hashish, without really knowing what to expect.

On Sunday morning Linda, Sindee and I hired a small boat and rowed out onto the glassy lake to enjoy the cool morning air and to watch the massive bulk of Annapurna in the pristine peak of Machhapuchhare slowly disappear in the heat haze of early morning. It was so peaceful out there on the mirrored water of the lake, and the demons of two nights previously were forgotten amongst the smells and sounds of the mountains.

The next day, Monday, Linda and I hired bikes for the day and explored the extremities of the lakeside part of Pokhara. Out around the lake on the western side of town, the houses quickly gave way to rugged hills reaching down to terraced and intensively-farmed lakeside flats, with the ranges rolling away into the blue, hazy distance: a series of ridges and peaks slowly disappearing into linear perspective.

The eastern end of the lake was less interesting but during the monsoon, the narrow sculpted gorge would be a spectacular sight. As it was, the water was nearly at zero level, and a group of monks were washing their maroon robes in pools below a dam and then spreading them out to dry on the rocks.

Washday at Pokhara.

Our evenings were filled with happy hour beers at the Laxman Restaurant, followed by a meal at one or another of the local restaurants then some quiet puffs on a hash pipe back at the Lonely Guest House. 

It was a relaxing and companionable time…

On Monday we took a bus back to Kathmandu. It was another long, dusty trip but it passed, quickly helped in part by the technically absorbing Tom Clancy novel The Sum of all Fears that I was reading. We stayed once again at Ned Kelly’s Rest House in Kathmandu, where Linda came down with a dose of what we figured to be amoebic dysentery, so I started her on a course of Flagyl (an anti-parasitic drug) to stop it.

We stayed in the hotel for most of the remaining time that we were in Kathmandu. 

¹ We still talk about that night. For some reason, we were trying to explain what a possum looked like to own of the other tourists in the restaurant. We decided to draw a picture of a possum with each of us drawing a section. I drew the body, someone drew the tail, someone else drew the head and someone else added ears. But when Linda drew a grinning face onto it, we completely lost the plot. We began laughing hysterically…then uncontrollably. The owner asked us to leave because we were making so much noise and he didn’t want the police to come. But we were paralysed with laughter. It still makes me laugh now, thirty years later, to think of that grinning possum face Linda drew that night.

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